A Missouri couple has been charged in connection with the death of a pregnant Arkansas mother who was found fatally shot.
The expectant mother, Ashley Bush, was allegedly targeted by another woman, Amber Waterman, who wanted to claim the victim's baby for herself, KHBS-TV reports.
Federal prosecutors on Thursday charged Amber Waterman with one count of kidnapping resulting in the death of 33-year-old Bush. Waterman's husband, Jamie Waterman, is accused of helping his wife and taking steps to prevent her arrest.
Bush was 31 weeks pregnant and went missing on Monday, Oct. 31. She was reported missing to the Benton County, Arkansas Sheriff's office by her boyfriend, Joshua Willis, the father of the child she was carrying.
Willis located Ashley's phone discarded along Hwy 43, north of Maysville, Ark. He allowed investigators to have password access and take the phone for investigation.
Amber Made Fake Profile, Was Looking for New Moms on Mommy Facebook Group
Willis told police Ashley had gone with "Lucy" to a Bentonville, Ark. job interview but never returned. "Lucy" was a female they had recently met at the Gravette, Ark. Public Library.
Investigators allege that "Lucy" was Amber Waterman and she was seeking someone with a baby or pregnant. "Lucy Barrows" account on Facebook was newly created and posted on social media on October 24, 2022.
"I have a bunch of baby items if any moms to be need them," she wrote in a post shared across the area.
Additionally, on Amber Waterman's FB account she posted September 6, 2022, some sonogram photos of a baby claiming to be pregnant.
'Lucy' Met Bush Promised Under the Pretext of a Job
Bush's fiancÃ© said she began the hunt for remote work in a mommy Facebook group. reportedly traveled with "Lucy" on Monday for a purported job event in Bentonville, Arkansas.
However, after Willis arrived, he told police that he saw "Lucy" pass the store but did not stop to drop off Bush. Willis also said he saw Bush in the passenger seat of "Lucy's" truck and that his calls were not being answered.
Joshua Willis, Bush's fiancÃ© and the father of the baby, brought Bush to a convenience store where she was going to meet with "Lucy," according to court records. Bush reportedly texted him later to meet her again at the same store. Willis subsequently reported Bush missing, prompting authorities to investigate.
Baby was Cut from Bush's Womb
Bush, who was from Benton County, Arkansas, was found dead Thursday and is believed to have been shot. Investigators went to the Waterman's property on Tuesday and got permission to search. They found blood stains in a pick-up truck, but Amber Waterman claimed that she just had a miscarriage the night before.
Arrest documents state that Amber Waterman told authorities she had been home all Halloween day with her own son and another child when she went into labor. She called 911 and met an ambulance at a shop located in Missouri, later telling authorities that she gave birth to a stillborn child.
McDonald County Sheriff Evenson told KOAM that his team responded to a report of a newborn baby who was not taking in air that Monday evening. While a medical helicopter was on standby, EMS reached Amber and the baby but were unable to revive the child.
BJ Goodwin, the McDonald County Coroner, was reportedly called to pick up the baby and take her to a funeral home in the area. He stated that Amber allegedly had the placenta from the birth held in her pants when the medical services arrived, and this made Jamie believe she had truly delivered the child, News 5 reported.
Amber allegedly refused medical treatment, according to Goodwin, and the placenta was taken from Amber. With his Coroner's expertise, Goodwin speculated that it appeared the baby was "cut out" from the mother's womb, according to the outlet.
Jamie Waterman later admitted to investigators that his wife told him she killed Bush, although she told him "Lucy" was behind the murder. After confessing to her husband, Amber directed him to Bush's body, which was being covered by a tarp. He told police that he helped drag Bush's body to a fire pit, where his wife set Bush's body on fire.
The couple then transported Bush's body to another location to dump it. Jamie later brought police to that location. Jamie allegedly told authorities that his wife also burned rags that she had used to clean up the blood in her pickup truck. If convicted, Amber Waterman could be sentenced to life in prison or executed. Jamie Waterman could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.